Tag Archives: blackbird fabrics

OAL2015: Fabric, Size & Cutting

1 Jun

OAL_Banner

Happy Monday, everyone! We are officially kicking off the OAL (Outfit Along) this morning, so I hope you’re ready for it! As I mentioned in the announcement post, we won’t actually start the sewing until later this month, on 6/22, since I’ll be traveling outside of the country and won’t have much internet access (and I hate the thought of putting up a tutorial and then not being around to answer questions! Lame!). However, I figured I’d help get you guys rolling in the meantime with choosing your fabric, size, and cutting. Then when I’m back, we can get straight into sewing so you can finish these dresses before the deadline at the end of July! Sound good?

Of course, if you don’t need the sewing tutorials, then you are absolutely free to start the sewing whenever you’d like! This just goes for those of y’all who are waiting for tutorials 🙂 For this year, I won’t be doing a full photo step-by-step of the entire pattern – but if you need those, most of the steps are similar to the ones from The 2014 OAL, so you can always browse through the tag for the tutorials. Things like sewing princess seams, sleeves or bias binding, and inserting a lapped zipper. All good stuff! Since it’s already up on the blog, I don’t see any point in reinventing the wheel (or subjecting those of y’all who aren’t following the OAL to a bunch of repeat tutorial posts, because, boo on that).

The tutorials I’ll be covering on this here blog are changing out the lining for bias facing (which can get a little weird around that back cutout, but don’t worry, I got your back!) and adding pockets. I will only be sewing View A, with the back cutout and no sleeves (that’s a lie, I’m still debating if I want to add the little cap sleeves. Decisions, decisions!). Again, the ~official~ dress pattern for the OAL is McCall’s 6887, but you are totally welcome to sew whatevererrrrr pattern you like!

First of all, here’s the fabric I’ve chosen for my dress!

OAL2015 - Fabric

This is some uhhhh-mazing Ikat cotton that I picked up from Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there… um… March 2014. Ha! I’ve been apprehensive to sew it up because the print-matching looked to be a nightmare, and also, the fabric is pretty thick and I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of garment it would work with. I think it’ll be really nice for this dress; it has a good structure for the skirt, and the print is so fun! I haven’t decided what color bias binding to use for the insides – common sense would tell me black or white, but I’m thinking I might look for some turquoise or hot pink 🙂 Something to add a little splash of color to the inside 🙂

OAL2015 - Fabric & yarn

Here it is with my yarn for the sweater portion – this is good ol’ Cascade 220 (my one true yarnlove), in a gorgeous mint color.

Don’t know what kind of fabric to choose for your dress? First of all, think about how you want the finished dress to look – do you want a bit of structure in the skirt and bodice, or do you want everything to hang in soft folds? You will want to choose a fabric with a weight and drape that work with what you have in mind. For this particular pattern, I really like how it looks with more structured fabrics – such as linen, cotton eyelet, cotton sateen, or even quilting cotton! This blog post I wrote for last year’s OAL goes over all the details for choosing and weight and drape, and shows you the differences between several fabrics. I’d recommend checking that out first, if you’re confused!

Here are some fabrics I’ve pulled off the ‘nets that would be lovely for this pattern –

coral eyelet
Italian Red Coral Eyelet – from Mood Fabrics
This would be a great choice for adding a lining – or if you want to skip the lining and still go with bias binding finishes, make sure you get an appropriate underlining. You could also sew a matching slip 🙂

tropical sateen
Tropical Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
Busy prints are great for hiding wonky seams, if you’re concerned about neatness 🙂 If you plan on sewing this pattern with a stretch fabric, you may want to consider sizing down (make a muslin out of similar weight/stretch fabric first, to check!).

abstract sateen
Abstract Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
I couldn’t resist. This fabric is AMAZING.

seersucker
Red and White Striped Cotton Seersucker – from Mood Fabrics
Easy to sew and lovely to wear, cotton seersucker is a great option if you live in a hot climate. I love the classic red and white stripes!

linen
Pinstriped Linen from Blackbird Fabrics
Another good option for hot climates. This linen is similar to the stuff I used to make my linen pajamas 🙂

shirting
Denim Chambray Cotton Shirting – from A Fashionable Stitch
Ain’t nothing that says you have to use shirting to make shirts. Make yourself a comfy little dress instead 🙂

agf
Art Gallery Fabrics: Arizona from Grey’s Fabric
Quilting cotton is a surprisingly good choice for this pattern, since it has the weight and drape that looks best with the bodice and skirt – and you have aaaalll kinds of fun prints to choose from 😀 I’ve never personally sewn with Art Gallery Fabrics, but everyone on the internet seems to go apeshit over them. At any rate, this is one helluva fun print!

A few notes about fabric:
– As I mentioned, if you’re sewing stuff that’s on the sheer side and you don’t want to mess with a lining, make sure you get an appropriate underlining fabric. I prefer to use white cotton voile or batiste (or black, or, whatever color looks best with my fabric), as it doesn’t add too much weight. If you aren’t sure about the weight, hold it with a piece of your main fabric and see how you like the way it feels. I won’t be covering underlining in this OAL, but I have a tutorial on my blog if you need help!
– Those of y’all sewing stripes or directional prints (meaning if you turn it the other way, it’s quite obviously upside-down) – make sure you buy extra fabric! Depending on the width of your fabric and the size you’re cutting, 1/2 yard – 1 yard will do.
– Prewash your fabric, however you plan on sewing your final garment. For me, that’s a cold wash and a low tumble dry (I hang my dresses to dry once they’re done – only because I hate ironing! Ha. But I always pre-shrink in the dryer just in case it accidentally gets tossed in there later down the line!).
– For your bias facings (and pockets, for that matter!), you may want to use a lighter fabric if your main fabric is a bit bulky. This is the case with my Ikat – I don’t want bulky facings, so I’m getting something lighter. Again, cotton batiste or voile is a really good choice for this, as is quilting cotton or cotton shirting. You can use almost anything, but remember that you’re dealing with skinny strips cut on the bias, so maybe don’t try the silk right now (unless you’re feeling really brazen!). Also, get something that presses well – like cotton or rayon. You will be pressing the hell out of your facings, and you want something that will respond to that. Polyester is not a good choice for this. I always stash-raid for this kind of thing, but if you’re buying, you’ll need about 1/2 a yard (and you’ll have tonssss left over to make even more bias binding, so get something you really love 🙂 ). Of course, you also buy those pre-made bias tapes – I don’t care for them, because I think the fabric is too stiff to look nice (and the color selection is very limited), but it’s definitely a lazy option if you don’t want to make your own. You’ll need the kind that is 1″ wide.
– To make your dress, you will also need interfacing, an invisible zipper (I prefer this dress finished with an invisible zipper, but you can try a lapped zipper if you’d like) and at least 3 buttons for the back, if you’re making the scoop back version.

For choosing your size, again, I will refer to you to Last year’s post in the OAL. Scroll past all the fabric, and there’s a section on choosing your size based on the finished measurements. McCall’s patterns can have quite a bit of ease in them, so this is a more accurate way of choosing the correct size. This is how I size *all* of the patterns I make, and it has yet to let me down 🙂 As an example – my body measurements put me into a size 10, but I sew the 6 (graded to 8 at the waist) for my finished garment, and it fits perfectly. Check those finished measurements!

If this is your first time making the pattern, I would strongly advise you to make a muslin mock-up of at least the bodice so you have a good idea of how the finished garment will fit. This gives you a good opportunity to make any necessary adjustments before cutting into your fabric. It’s also important if you’re sewing the version with the scoop back – I found the scoop came up higher than my bra band, and this may be the case for you as well. Can’t fix it once you’ve already sewn it up! For the muslin, you can make the whole dress if you’d like – but I just sew up the bodice and leave off any finishing. Pin the back shut as best you can to get a good assessment of the fit.

Once you’ve got your size and muslin done, THEN it’s time to cut your fabric! Refer to this post about cutting and marking fabric (also from last year’s OAL hahahaha sorry) if you need any help 🙂 You will be following the cutting guidelines that are included in your pattern; make sure you follow them carefully so you cut the correct number of pieces. The side skirt piece should be cut TWICE on the double layer, for a total of 4 pieces.

OAL2015 - Cutting the back bodice

You may also want to consider adding a little extra fabric allowance below the scoop back, just to give yourself more bra coverage (I added about 1/2″). There is also a 5/8″ seam allowance there, and we’ll be sewing at 1/4″ to apply the bias, so keep that in mind as well. Your muslin will tell you exactly how much you need to add (if any at all!) to cover your bra band. Or maybe I just wear my bra band low, ha.

FINALLY, if you’re cutting stripes or plaids and need help matching – here’s another tutorial link for that. Man! I’m so glad I already wrote all these tutorials haha!

Ok, whew, I think that about covers it! Do you have any questions about the prep work that I haven’t covered in this post? Let me know before I ditch town on Thursday 6/4 and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can 🙂 Have you chosen your fabric and yarn yet? Let’s have a look, please! 🙂

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Completed: The Watson Bra & Bikini Set

19 Jan

Hey look! I made another bra! And matching undies!!

Watson Bra

I’m loving my Marlborough bras so so much (yes, plural. I actually have two now, but I’ll save #2 for another post – this post is all about Watson), but I was really intrigued by the new Watson Bra pattern from Cloth Habit. Instead of a low movement fabric, this baby is sewn up in a fabric with lots of stretch. The cups are higher and more modest and there is no underwire. What really got my attention was the longline option, as well as the included bikini bottom pattern. SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Watson Bra

Since I’m still pretty new to this whole new world of lingerie, I let the pattern hold my hand when choosing a size and following the instructions. I measured to a 30D (to recap, in case there is anyone new here, I usually wear a 28DD), which fits pretty spot-on. Which is good, because other than hold the little cups up to my boobs while I was sewing them – I wasn’t able to actually try the thing on until I was completely finished with it. Talk about a bummer if that hadn’t worked out! Thankfully, the fit is pretty good. One cup has a tiny bit of sideboob action going on – but that breast is also slightly bigger, so I’m at the point now where I’m trying to decide if it’s worth tweaking the fit for a really custom bra. I’m pretty happy with the fit of the band – it’s nice and tight, like I like it, but it’s also very comfortable.

Watson Bra

The pattern has you cut the cups and cradle in a stretch fabric, the band in power mesh, and then the cradle is lined with a non-stretch to stabilize. Lining that section was obviously a little difficult for me – and I ended up getting quite a few folds as a result. Wah. For my next make, I am going to try fusing my stabilizer to see if that helps. It’s not the end of the world with these folds – but of course I’m always looking to improve.

Watson Bra

The bra includes standard bra hardware – hooks and eyes, adjustable straps, and decorative elastic. I do like that about the pattern, because it makes it look a lot less like some kind of soft training bra that a pre-teen would wear, and more like… a cute bra without underwires, I guess.

Watson Bra

Because of the needed stretch fabric, this bra doesn’t require the same sort of fitting that a structured bra would command (such as the Marlborough). It’s very soft and forgiving. The pattern is rated as being pretty easy and a great way to introduce beginners to bra-making. That being said – while I didn’t find the bra necessarily difficult to make, I do think that the Marlborough was easier to sew! Mostly because that lycra was stretching and sliding all over the place, and getting the cups in just so required quite a bit of precision. Still, it only took me a couple of hours to make, so that should count for something.

The instructions are pretty good! I might be biased – because I’ve already made two bras, I have my copy of Demystifying Bra Fitting and Construction on stand-by, and I’ve had enough bra-making conversations to know at least a little of what I’m talking about – but I found them very easy to follow along with. One part that was missing was determining strap length, but it’s my understanding that the pattern was updated with directions on how to do this (I personally just cut two 18″ straps. Worked perfectly! They are adjustable, after all). There were a few minor parts of the pattern that I changed based on preference – such as trimming the excess fabric before topstitching the elastic to the wrong side – but what’s included with the pattern is great as-is. There’s a lot of helpful info for choosing fabrics and trims, and tips for stitch settings when choosing your zigzag stitch. Also, there is currently an entire Watson Bra sewalong happening at Cloth Habit right now, so there’s that if you need even MORE hand-holding!

Watson Bra

Here’s an inside shot. As you can see, I did not finish my seams – just left ’em raw. It seems to work fine for my other bras, anyway. In the future, I’d love to learn how to properly finish my seams – or even line the whole thing – but I really want to nail down fit and technique before I start going too far down the deep end.

Watson Bra

Watson Bra

Rather than try to source all the materials and notions myself, I decided to splurge on a Watson kit from Blackbird Fabrics. The kit includes everything you need – 4 way stretch lycra, matching powermesh, elastics and trims, metal strap rings and sliders (stupidly, that was my favorite part haha. THEY LOOK SO GOOD), even the aforementioned cradle stabilizer and cotton knit for the crotch lining (for the undies, obviously). There’s enough in the kit to make both the bra and the matching bikini, and you can choose if you want a kit for the standard band or the longline. Since my boobs run on the small side, I’d reckon I could probably make 2 or even 3 bras with how much fabric I have left over (and maybe even a little bit of trim!). This color set is sapphire blue with black trims – and it’s soo beautiful! I can’t wait to see what other color combos Caroline comes up with.

Watson Bra

Watson Bra

Here’s the matching underwear – sorry it looks so unimpressive haha. I cut the XS based on my hip measurement (I was very apprehensive about this, as I normally wear a small), and the fit is pretty good. I think the butt area needs… something. Maybe I didn’t stretch the elastic enough. I feel like it makes my butt look flat, but Landon tells me I’m being ridiculous. Either way, they’re pretty comfy. I wore them all day yesterday and didn’t get a wedgie, which is awesome haha.

Since these posts are somewhat useless to me without a live model wearing the goods (if you want THAT, go holler at Heather Lou), here’s another floating bra photo for your consideration:

Watson Bra

For a non-underwired bra, it’s surprisingly supportive! I also wore this all day yesterday (with the matching bikini, bc, duh), and it’s really really comfortable. Way more comfortable than those Bambi bras I made. And it’s REALLY cute on – I am thinking that with a couple minor tweaks to the strapping and back hook, this would make a fabulous bathing suit pattern. I just need to figure out how to stabilize that cradle – it has to stay rigid, and I think the stuff I’m using isn’t really water-friendly (and definitely wouldn’t hold up in chlorine or salt water). Any suggestions or ideas?

Also, it’s not lost on me that I would consider making a bathing suit from this pattern, but can’t bear to show my skin with the bra in this blog post. Oh well.

Watson Bra

Watson Bra

Bra making is SO MUCH FUN, you guys! Good thing that happens to be a hole in my wardrobe, because I really love making them and I definitely want to do more! I’m really looking forward to the Bra Making Workshop in Philly next weekend – I have sooo much to learn, and I know Maddie is going to be an amazing teacher!